San Clemente, the “Spanish Village by the Sea,” is the southernmost city in Orange County. It is the only city in the county that is closer to San Diego than Los Angeles. The city was founded by real estate developer Ole Hanson in 1925. It is home to President Richard Nixon’s “Western White House,” which sits above Trestles, one of the West Coast’s premier surfing spots.
San Clemente is a top-notch surfing destination and home of Surfing Magazine and The Surfer’s Journal. Surfboard shapers and manufacturers have also set up shop in the city. Land lovers may enjoy hiking the Cristianitos Regional Trail, Forster Ranch Ridgeline Trail and Rancho San Clemente Trail, which offer a variety of terrain as well as scenic views.
Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente, and Amtrak and Metrolink trains serve the city between Los Angeles and San Diego daily.
San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, 6 miles north of San Clemente, became an official city in April 1961. Home to the “Jewel of the Missions,” the city is rich in history and culture. Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776 and the first chapel built is still used today. The Mission, on Ortega Highway west of Interstate 5, is one of California’s most important historical, cultural and education centers. The Los Rios Historic District includes adobes that date back to 1794 and is one of the oldest continuing neighborhoods in Orange County. The San Capistrano Station was built in 1894. Today, commuters can skip the freeway congestion by using Amtrak or Metrolink from this beautiful, historic depot.
The Orange County Library, at Acjachema and El Camino Real, called “the first authentic postmodern masterpiece” by Newsweek magazine, features musical series, speakers and special events.